Two New Jersey veterans say now-Congressman George Santos promised to boost funds for lifesaving surgical procedure for one in every of their canines in 2016, then grew to become elusive and took off with the cash.
Santos, the embattled freshman Republican, faces rising strain to resign after he lied and misrepresented his instructional, work and household historical past. Santos has admitted to “embellishing” his resume, however has maintained he’s “not a felony.”
Wealthy Osthoff, a US Navy veteran, instructed CNN his pit bull Sapphire started creating a tumor in 2015, and it continued to develop in 2016. Osthoff mentioned he was homeless, dwelling in a tent, on the time after dropping his job and home.
Osthoff’s mentor and pal Michael Boll, founding father of New Jersey Veterans Community, instructed CNN he took Osthoff beneath his wing as a part of the charity’s mentorship program and tried to get assist for his canine.
Boll mentioned a mutual pal related the 2 veterans with Santos, who instructed them Santos was often concerned with serving to and rescuing animals. Boll and Osthoff each knew Santos by the identify Anthony Devolder, they mentioned.
Santos arrange a GoFundMe for Osthoff’s pit bull, Sapphire, Boll mentioned. A put up from the Fb profile of George Devolder hyperlinks to a GoFundMe elevating surgical procedure funds for the canine.
“Sapphire is a ten yr previous pink nostril pit bull that has been maintaining this man firm, she dose [sic] not should die due to this tumor, she deserves to be handled and cared for,” the Fb put up reads partially. “Will you assist this child and her daddy keep collectively for a couple of extra years? Does he not should have her? Let’s all come collectively to assist this household of two keep wholesome!” the put up says.
CNN has reached out to Santos’ lawyer and his congressional workplace for remark. Santos instructed the information outlet Semafor that the story, first reported by Patch.com, was “faux” and that he had “no clue who that is.”
The fundraiser ultimately raised round $3,000, based on Boll.
However issues went south after Osthoff tried to entry the GoFundMe cash, he mentioned.
Santos grew to become uncooperative, based on Osthoff and Boll – at first saying Osthoff wanted to take his canine to a veterinary clinic of Santos’ selection, then claiming one other clinic wouldn’t settle for Santos’ type of fee.
“I needed to soar by hoops and do all the pieces his means,” Osthoff instructed CNN. “He was simply completely ,completely tough. One impediment after one other.”
At one level, Santos instructed Osthoff immediately that he wouldn’t be getting the cash. Osthoff mentioned he accused Santos of working a bogus charity, and Santos grew to become confrontational.
“He acquired so indignant with me and he blew up and refused to provide me the cash after which simply wouldn’t reply the calls anymore,” he mentioned.
In an announcement to CNN, GoFundMe mentioned it eliminated the fundraiser from its platform after receiving a report about it.
“Once we obtained a report of a problem with this fundraiser in late 2016, our belief and security staff sought proof of the supply of funds from the organizer. The organizer failed to reply, which led to the fundraiser being eliminated and the e-mail related to that account prohibited from additional use on our platform. GoFundMe has a zero tolerance coverage for misuse of our platform and cooperates with legislation enforcement investigations of these accused of wrongdoing.”
Boll tried to behave as a mediator between the 2, he mentioned, with no luck.
“Anthony just about was sad with something I used to be saying and was reluctant to even converse with me anymore,” Boll mentioned.
Santos ultimately stopped replying to messages from Boll and Osthoff, and Osthoff says he by no means obtained fee from the fundraiser.
Osthoff mentioned his canine handed away about six months after his final contact with Santos.
His canine, Sapphire, “was my little savior,” he instructed CNN. “She saved me on this planet.”
Osthoff mentioned he needed to panhandle for the cash to pay for her euthanization.
Osthoff mentioned he contacted the police about his interactions with Santos however mentioned “it didn’t go wherever in any respect.”
As a result of Santos glided by a distinct identify when the 2 veterans have been involved with him, Osthoff mentioned he didn’t know Anthony Devolder and George Santos have been the identical individual till just lately.
“In December I began seeing him on TV,” Osthoff instructed CNN. “I acknowledged his face, and it simply turned my abdomen once I noticed him.”
“That he was now given a place the place he impacts hundreds of individuals’s lives…it’s actually disheartening to know that,” Boll mentioned.